Like many others, I have been disappointed by the proposals for Pyramid re-use. It's a reminder that too often, we're 15 years behind the rest of the country. An aquarium? It's a dicey proposition. How many aquariums have been major disappointments -- even outright flops -- for cities? Simulator rides? Oh my God. Vegas gave up on that a decade ago, and Vegas has money to burn.
It seems to me the fundamental problem is that the pyramid is not easily or cheaply re-usable. When we made the decision that the pyramid couldn't be retrofitted to serve the Grizzlies, we made the decision to eat the debt. We should have calculated that (even privately) as part of the cost of luring the Grizzlies to Memphis.
If we assume that we won't find any use that covers the debt service, then we can re-think the use of the building, and perhaps more importantly, the use of the land.
With that said, I want to float an idea that may be the worst I've ever had. But just as a thought starter...
I just walked down the bluffwalk to see from above what was happening at Tom Lee Park. And it occurred to me that the Pyramid and its parking lots could be a great festival grounds for Memphis. It could become the new home of Memphis in May and perhaps five other major festivals.
We could re-think the land from the north end of the cobblestones all the way to Auction (including the Pyramid) and make it work as one great urban space, rather than these pitiful little pieces. We could connect the land more obviously and more visually to the water. And we would have the option of indoor/outdoor festivals, making it a year-round option.
Perhaps we should challenge Memphis in May to re-make itself into a year-round festival producer.
We could then make the festival grounds available for conventions, if that has any value. (Could it give us a way to differentiate our offerings?)
We wouldn't use the pyramid for "concerts." Only for "festivals." Would that allow us to get around the non-compete?
This land has a history as a festival grounds as it was once used for the Cotton Carnival Midway. (Ok, I'm stretching the geography a little bit, but you get the point.)
This strategy would allow us to re-design Tom Lee Park as it desperately needs to be without letting the considerations of a 2-weekend festival drive the park's design for the other 50 weeks.
Ok, call me crazy. Just thinking...